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The ever-popular Taimanov is our main subject for discussion this month, although the Lowenthal, Sveshnikov, Gaw-Paw, Classical and Scheveningen also get a look in! I'm grateful to subscriber Vedran Baci for sending in a very interesting recent game of his, and especially to IM Goh Wei Ming for kindly writing up some of his games from the recent Mind Sports Games Team Championship in China.

Download PGN of November '08 Open Sicilian games

The Lowenthal

After 1 e4 c5 2 Nf3 Nc6 3 d4 cxd4 4 Nxd4 e5 5 Nb5 a6 6 Nd6+ Bxd6 7 Qxd6 Qf6 White has a number of options. We consider a few lesser-known approaches in Jelecevic - Baci and especially 8 Qc7, which Black counters with the risky but practically quite dangerous 8...Nge7 9 Nc3 b5!?:

In Bauer - Markos we move on to a discussion of the main line with 8 Qd1 when Black usually plays 8...Qg6, but the Slovakian GM prefers the simple 8...Nge7 9 Nc3 0-0. It works a treat in the game, but I'm far from certain that Black should be able to equalize so easily.

The Sveshnikov

Ivanchuk rejected the popular 1 e4 c5 2 Nf3 Nc6 3 d4 cxd4 4 Nxd4 Nf6 5 Nc3 e5 6 Ndb5 d6 7 Bg5 a6 8 Na3 b5 9 Nd5 in Ivanchuk - Radjabov, preferring 9 Bxf6 gxf6 10 Nd5. After 10...Bg7 11 c3 one would have expected Radjabov to blitz out 11...f5, but I suspect that he was guilty of a fingerfehler! Despite this the game isn't without interest, although I suspect that the Azeri won't be repeating 11...Ne7?!:

The Gaw-Paw

A tricky line not without its dangers is 1 e4 c5 2 Nf3 e6 3 d4 cxd4 4 Nxd4 Nf6 5 Nc3 Qb6!?. However, White appears to be able to gain a clear plus with the accurate sequence 6 e5 Bc5 7 Be3 Nd5 8 Nxd5 exd5 9 Nb5!:

Wei Ming explains all in Goh Wei Ming-Sadorra; the first of three excellent contributions from him.

The Taimanov

This variation of the Sicilian remains pretty popular and we consider a number of critical lines this month after 1 e4 c5 2 Nf3 Nc6 3 d4 cxd4 4 Nxd4 e6 5 Nc3 Qc7 6 Be3 a6:

In Goh Wei Ming-Ahmed the classical 7 Bd3 Nf6 8 0-0 is reached via transposition, and an excellent piece of analysis from the Singapore IM suggests that White can pose serious problems after both 8...Bd6 and 8...Ne5.

We turn our attention to the topical English Attack line 7 Qd2 Nf6 8 0-0-0 in Karjakin - Nisipeanu. There Black comes well prepared and Nisipeanu's 8...Bb4 9 f3 Ne7 10 Nde2 b5 11 Bf4 e5 12 Bg5 h5! looks like an excellent novelty:

Black doesn't have to develop his bishop to the typical Taimanov square of b4 and 8...Be7 is also quite viable. Black even follows up with the prophylactic 9 f3 h5!? in Vachier Lagrave-Macieja and obtains a decent position before being outplayed by the young French star.

Finally, we turn to the sharp and equally topical line 6...Nf6 7 f4!? Bb4 8 Ndb5 Qa5 9 e5 Nd5:

On the current evidence this appears fully viable for Black, although he was blown away by White's extremely energetic play in Jakovenko - Alekseev.

The Classical: The Richter-Rauzer

I must attempt that I was tempted to entitle this update 'The Return of the Classical; Part Three'! That's because there's been another high profile success for Black with 1 e4 c5 2 Nf3 d6 3 d4 cxd4 4 Nxd4 Nf6 5 Nc3 Nc6 6 Bg5 e6 7 Qd2 a6 8 0-0-0 Be7 9 f4 Nxd4 10 Qxd4 b5:

White doesn't seem to come too well prepared in Jobava - Dreev and quickly finds himself on the back foot after 11 Bxf6 gxf6 12 Be2 Rb8!?.

The Scheveningen: The Keres Attack

Recently one has been able to detect a growing number of Grandmasters happy to allow the often-feared Keres Attack, 1 e4 c5 2 Nf3 e6 3 d4 cxd4 4 Nxd4 Nf6 5 Nc3 d6 6 g4. These ranks include Movsesian and Ehlvest, as well as Andrei Sokolov, and Wei Ming's final contribution shows that 6...h6 7 h4 Nc6 8 Rg1 d5 may well be better for Black than theory has suggested:

Don't miss his detailed notes to Goh Wei Ming-Arlandi.

That's all for this month. My thanks again to Wei Ming and I'll be back with plenty of high-level Sicilians in December.

Until then, Richard


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